One of my faults - of which, before Mr B steps up, in the interests of accuracy, I concede I have a great many - is that I do like Instant Results. When it comes to Great Expectations, I was there in the queue, just behind
the unfortunate Oliver Twist. “More! More!” you will hear me cry.
If, that is, you were in the vicinity of our back garden this morning when I hung
my carefully prepared bird cakes from the branches of convenient trees and stood back, expectantly, awaiting flocks of feathered friends - the more exotic the better - to immediately descend on the feast I had so lovingly prepared for them. Ah, yes, I had
taken almost as much trouble as Mary Berry, trying out a new culinary challenge with which to test contestants in the Great British Bake-Off. Armed with a recipe card helpfully provided by the RSPB, I had kneaded together lard, bird seed, grated cheese and
raisins to create a horribly sticky mess with which to fill several empty yoghurt pots. It took simply ages to wash my hands free of the Sticky Stuff. The bird cakes spent the night in the fridge, presumably hardening up, though when I removed them this morning
they were still sticky as ever, giving me cause to doubt whether I had used sufficient quantities of cheese, seed and raisins or whether what I’d actually produced was just a tub of lard, with a few accessories by way of decoration.
Not to worry, I reassured myself. I find I spend quite a lot of time, these days, reassuring myself. Sometimes I even convince myself whIch is reassuring in itself. The proof of the
bird cakes would be in the eating, I told myself as I settled down to do a bit of Serious Birdwatching. I had decided that I would take a leaf from the Lovely Linda’s (bird) book and start my hour of birdwatching from the appearance of the first bird.
The recipe card for my bird cakes sort of promised “greenfinches, tits, maybe even a great spotted woodpecker.”
Chance would be a fine thing. Our first
visitors were four fat pigeons - and, when I say fat, I mean verging on the obese. They really shouldn’t have been eating the full fat diet I had strung up for them. I felt quite guilty, as if I were offering a chocolate eclair to a friend who’d
just joined Slimming World. Mind you they were exercising, those pigeons, trying to knock the bird cakes out of the trees and onto the ground where they would be more easily consumed. In this endeavour they were shortly joined by two magpies of magnificent
superiority in the Art of Tree Balancing. A couple of sparrows showed up but ignored the bird cake in favour of unadulterated bird seed in one of the feeders. To be honest I couldn’t really blame them.
A grey squirrel scooted along the top of the back fence, adding a moment’s excitement to the Watching Hour. Our final visitor was an enormous sea-gull, as snooty as they come, prowling about the garden with a supercilious
expression on his face.
It’s not the greatest tally, I am sure you will agree. None of the Usual Suspects who grace our garden with their presence
on a regular basis put in an appearance. Not even Mr and Mrs Blackbird…
I am not defeated yet. Tomorrow I am going to do it all over again. Twice, if necessary.
Then I will decide which of my Bird Counts I am going to submit to the RSPB. Like Robert Bruce, he of the spider, I will try, try, try again. I am quite, quite sure we will have better luck tomorrow.
Indeed, as usual, I have Great Expectations.